New year, updated look for Fiction Friday! Man, it’s been a while since I read a not-work-related book.
Desert Tales – Melissa Marr
The Mojave Desert was a million miles away from the plots and schemes of the Faerie Courts—and that’s exactly why Rika chose it as her home. The once-mortal faery retreated to the desert’s isolation after decades of carrying winter’s curse inside her body. But her seclusion—and the freedom of the desert fey—is threatened by the Summer King’s newfound strength. And when the manipulations of her trickster friend, Sionnach, thrust Rika into a new romance, she finds new power within herself—and a new desire to help Sionnach protect the desert fey and mortals alike. The time for hiding is over.
I knew that there had been a manga version of Desert Tales but I didn’t know it had been turned into a novel until late last year. Since I’m a huge Wicked Lovely fan and generally enjoy Melissa Marr (with one exception), I had to check it out.
It was good. It wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t horrible either. I think my main problem was that I didn’t love any of the characters.
Rika had a pretty good character arc as she slowly embraces her powers, but it just takes forever. I’m not sure how long she had been the Winter Girl and I’ve never been clear on when Donia took over, but she (Rika) wallowed in self-pity for a really long time before she decided to take charge. She came across as quite wishy-washy, and, while I understand why (Keenan totally screwed her over), I just feel like she didn’t bother making an effort to get past it until Sionnach literally dragged her out of her (literal) cave.
I wasn’t completely sold on her relationship with Jayce, he was sort of bland (maybe because I just compare all of Marr’s heroes to Seth from Wicked Lovely who I hardcore love…) and I couldn’t figure out how I felt about Sionnach. At first, I thought he would be “bad” i.e. that he was Rika’s friend who would end up betraying her for his own selfish reasons. I was fully prepared to like him as a Dark Court-esque faery, but he wasn’t as brooding as Niall or as charismatic as Irial. Sure, he was occasionally endearing, but he was so manipulative. I don’t care if he’s a fox faery and that’s just what they’re like, he came perilously close to crossing the boundary between “I do this because I love you” and “I do this because I’m controlling”. Once a male character gets too controlling, I lose interest.
Also Malli reminded me of Bananach (who shows up in later Wicked Lovely books), except less cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs (and, by extension, less interesting to read about). Bananach had such a fantastic personality – like a faery-version of Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange – and her threats were actually backed by power, whereas Malli was all “I could challenge you for Alpha status, but I won’t. But I could, you know.” Not quite the same effect as Bananach letting loose and trying to kill everyone.
I wonder how the story plays out in the mangas. When it was turned into a novel, she obviously had to flesh the story out a little more, and her descriptions are still as evocative as always. There are some really well written moments, but I just couldn’t connect with her characters this time around.